Fossil Fuel Divestment


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A case for divesting from fossil fuels

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  • Climates have changed through all of geologic history. We know this because in human history, the climates have changed. For instance, the last ice age ended. But, here’s an important thing: the climate has been stable since the advent of civilization. In fact, civilization is possible (think about agriculture, to start with) because of the climate.The climate is changing! And this is different from climates changing before in geologic history. (1) This change is caused by human beings, and that change is caused by humans taking the carbon that has been sequestered underground in the form of fossil fuels and burning it. (Prior to industrial revolution, carbon in the environment went from atmosphere to vegetation and animals, then back into the atmosphere.) (2) This is happening very quickly. Climate is changing not over millennia, but over decades.
  • Since the beginning of civilization, CO2 levels have been around 275ppm. James Hansen (climate scientist from NASA) has said that CO2 levels above 350ppm mean there will be some climate change (and the higher the levels, the more the climate will change). We are at 400ppm. That means there will be some climate change. The question is how much.
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  • We should divest from the companies that hold these carbon reserves. There are two possible courses of action that the international community will take:There is no climate action. Then we need to make sure we’re not making money through the immoral act of breaking the climate. Divestment will also start to shift the public conscience on the crisis (consider the roll divestment played in ending South African apartheid).There is climate action. In this case, the fossil fuel market will crash, and it would be nice to get out of that sector of the market before that crash happens.
  • Fossil Fuel Divestment

    1. 1. Fossil Fuel DivestmentWhy we need to do it NOW
    2. 2. Overview• Climate change• The numbers• What the proposal does• The proposal’s fiscal impact
    3. 3. Climate changeClimates change◦ Consider the ice age◦ Climate hasn’t changed since advent of civilizationThis is different◦ Human caused◦ Carbon recycled until 1800◦ After 1800, Carbon in the ground burned and put in theatmosphere◦ It’s happening quickly
    4. 4. Why climate change is scaryWater availability depends on climatesFood production depends on climatesWhat will happen when water and food become scarce world-wide?◦ People dying of thirst is a moral issue◦ People dying of starvation is a moral issue◦ People going to war is a moral issue
    5. 5. The numbers – CO2 levels260ppm to 280ppm – 9000 BCE to 1800 CE350ppm – no climate change400ppm – where we are today: some climate change
    6. 6. The really scary numbers2 degrees CelsiusThe Most conservativecountries agree thatwarming above this isdangerousWe’ve already raisedthe temperature 0.8degrees Celsius565 gigatonsHow much CO2 we canput in the atmosphereand stay below 2degrees Celsius2795 gigatonsHow much CO2 existsin the known reservesof fossil fuelFossil fuel companiesare searching for more
    7. 7. It is immoralto break the climate
    8. 8. It is immoralto make moneybreaking the climate
    9. 9. Why we need to divestNO CLIMATE ACTION TAKENWe make sure we don’t makemoney through the immoral actof breaking the climateCARBON RELEASE LIMITEDWe get out of the fossil fuelmarket ahead of its crash
    10. 10. Here’s the recommended actionDivest from the 200 companies that hold the highest levelscarbon reserves.What are those companies? The list of 200 coal, gas, and oilcompanies can be found here: